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First Impressions: Chance The Rapper, Taylor Swift, Calvin Harris + more

Written By the interns on 10/21/2014

FI_20Oct

First Impressions is an interns roundtable review of songs on their first (or second) listen. Each week we review six new songs from the past week, each giving them a score out of five and awarding our pick of the week. Today we pick apart tracks by Taylor Swift, Tkay Maidza, Chance The Rapper, Calvin Harris, Marina And The Diamonds & Marion Hill. 

Taylor Swift- Out of the Woods

Lizzie: We can’t say Taylor doesn’t mix it up a bit. This carries very much a Broods ‘Mother and Father’ sound for me – the running track style. I am a massive fan of her voice in this, and while it is yet another Taylor Swift break-up heartache track, I wouldn’t be totally embarrassed to blast this song from my car… in public. 3.5

Bianca: The first verse was actually quite easy on my ears, which is quite a departure from my usual feelings towards Tay Tay. And then…the chorus came. Like a yapping chihuahua that keeps nipping at your ankles, begging for attention, so is the effect of the continuous repetition of the mind-numbing lyrics. In saying that, overall, this song was as mildly enjoyable as reading its accompanying YouTube comments debating whether or not this was written about Harry Styles. 2.75

Sam: Goddamit. It was a big step for me to admit I was a fan of Shake It Off but two tracks in a row is ludicrous. This is good isn’t it? I think it is. It’s like a HAIM-inspired, slightly left-of-centre track that’s like nothing she’s really done before. The final bridge is a little bit over the top, but for all its repetition, the chorus is golden. Maybe I’m out of the woods. Maybe it’s finally time to admit I’m a Tay Tay fan :/ 3.5

Hannah: I am a big, BIG closet Taylor Swift fan. Think Narnia big. But I love her for all her poppy, catchy, pretween, sappy tendencies. This is just a little… Well it’s a little too grown up for the pigeon hole I’ve put dear Taylor in. Yes it sounds like Broods. Yes it sounds like Haim. Yes it sounds like all those slightly left of field female artists making it big in the mainstream at the moment. Off the back of Shake it Off though, what’s wrong with just sounding like Taylor? 3

Tkay Maidza- Switch Lanes

Lizzie: Tkay continues to shine her versatile young talent to the world! I love the flow/switch lanes in and out of singing and rapping -an almighty talent in itself. But I what I really like is the stripped-back style and noticeably tight production (by Paces), very unlike her usual hard bass-heavy beat. 4

Bianca: Aaaaand, Tkay has done it again. What a delightfully minimal track with just enough  sass and badassery to keep things interesting. The contrast between her trilling vocals and quick-witted roll of the tongue is a perfect marriage, creating a multi-faceted layer over Paces’ minimal, plonky, yet polished, production. 

Sam: I feel like a broken record gushing over Tkay but she’s really yet to put a step wrong. Switch Lanes gives us more of that bratty, attitude over a wonderfully spacious beat courtesy of Paces. I love how effortlessly she flips between singing and rapping. It makes me think she’s got the potential to have a crossover hit like Nicki Minaj did with Superbass.  4

Hannah: As far as interns darlings go, Tkay takes the cake.I have to admit however, I’ve never quite been as ready to board the Tkay train bound for stardom as the rest of the interns. Switch Lanes is changing that though. It’s skillful and perfectly isolates between the sweet sounds of a new comer and bratty spits handled like a pro. All aboard! 3

[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/tkaymaidza/switch-lanes[/soundcloud]

Chance The Rapper- No Better Blues

Lizzie: So Chance apparently hates a lot of things, we get it. From the opening of the track I thought this was going to be a bit more of an optimistic track, but no “it don’t get no better, it just don’t get no better.” I am feeling a little bit blue too now (sigh). 2

Bianca: Nothing like a bit of negativity to get me interested. After all of Pharrell’s Happy-ness and Taylor’s shaking off of the haters, finally Chance tells it like it is and lets loose with his take on the realities of life. Much like life, though, this track plods along but, unlike life, it doesn’t bear any exciting twists or turns. 2.5

Sam: Along with the Arthur cover, Chance has been getting pretty emotional lately and it works for him. For a song that starts every line with the same few words, it’s pretty profound. The beat never really alters but somehow Chance injects an infectious personality in with his spoken-word. He may hate everything, but I am very much a fan of this. 4

Hannah: Does anyone else find this song incredibly relaxing to listen to? Chance’s spoken word is so melodic and perfectly paired with the intimate piano and bass-heavy backing track. I find myself kind of being lulled by this out pouring of hate. And hey, at least he hates hate, right? 4

[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/chancetherapper/chance-the-rapper-the-social-experiment-know-betta-blues[/soundcloud]

 Calvin Harris- Slow Acid

Lizzie: I may have to eat my words on this one. I have spent to year slamming Calvin Harris for his lack of originality and experimentation with any of his tracks of recent. Slow Acid is a definite departure from his usual stadium hit recipe. Something you would find at the end of a Bourne film – the slower pace, less bass heavy and noticeable lack of Florence and the Machine/ Rihanna is refreshing and hopeful for his LP release next month. Phew! 4

Bianca:  Well, this is certainly a new sound from ol’ Calvin. It’s a hectic, grungey track with a similarly-sounding name. I guess it’s a nice change of pace from the regular, textbook method of song structure and irritating guest vocalists that Calvin usually follows but I can’t help but find the entire package- the ‘rough’ video clip, the contrived name, the ‘90s trance-esque “Woo!” vocal sample- a little bit, for lack of a better word, lame. It just feels it was made for the purpose of soundtracking an anti-piracy commercial. “You Wouldn’t Steal A Car”… and I definitely won’t be stealing this song. 1.75  

Sam: I’m the first one to rat on a Calvo song, but I’m in two minds over this one. I do hate it, but that’s more of a personal taste. I do applaud that he’s finally doing something different that’s not so explicitly made so that more dollar signs rain on him. But then again, I don’t praise every album for having a second track that sounds different to the first so I’m just gonna go right ahead and place this here: 2

Hannah: In terms of the typical Calvin sound, sure let’s call this track experimental and ok, we can even bandy around the phrase underground. In terms of the rest of the EDM catalogue or history of dark beat dance tracks, let’s just say YAWN! Calvin’s experimental track sounds remarkably like The Matrix soundtrack. 2

Marina and the Diamonds- Froot

Lizzie: Oh my word this is a long track. I am eerily attracted to Marina’s voice, but I thought I was listening to Eurovision for a second there! I do not really see the reason to push past the 5-minute mark. ‘Froot’ is a bit of a marathon if you ask me. 3.5

Bianca: Marina really makes us work for the chorus (which doesn’t come in until around the 1:20 mark) but the fructose-laden result is certainly worth it. Her gooey, honey-like voice drawls in the most positive of ways over the groovin’ bassline and jazzy melody. This one’s going straight to the fruit bowl. Bianca’s Pick 

Sam: If nothing else, I’ve always been a fan of Marina’s chorus’. She doesn’t go in all guns-blazing ever, rather subtly weaving in melodies with that drawling voice. On Froot, we really have to work to get the chorus. It feels like 17 verses before it finally arrives, but my goodness is it worth it. Those funky guitars roll-in and she just climbs up that vocal ladder, ever so slightly. Props for the title too. Too often is the power of ironic spelling ignored. 4.5 Sam’s Pick 

Hannah: Hey Chance, how do you feel about adding the line “I hate Marina and The Diamonds and ironic pronunciations of 5 letter words,” to your list of grievances? 1

Marian Hill- Got It

Lizzie: This performance offers up a little taster-plate of swagger, hip-hop sass, quirky production and raw vocal talent. I haven’t heard something like this smooth in a long time – oh and the sax is perfectly placed, that’s my favourite! 4 Lizzie’s Pick

Bianca: Samantha’s gossamer voice is the winner here, truly shining when paired with jangly cymbals and a pulsating backdrop. Once the trilling brass comes in, I’m immediately transported into a smokey club in the ’40s. Getting plenty of sultry Jessica Rabbit vibes from this. 3.5 

Sam: Love the almost-tinny, throbbing bass on this one. It would be nothing though if it wasn’t for the vocal personality of Samantha Gongol. The heights she reaches at some points is pretty breathtaking. That weird instrumental break helps it sound like a far more tasteful version of Jason Derulo’s Wiggle which is nice. I have been asking for that this year. 3.5

Hannah: This is as irresistible as a promising bowl of the richest chocolate cake mix and equally as seductive. Just try to say no. I love the bounce, the clap, the vocal acrobatics, the instrumental break and the bass. This ticks so many of the right boxes. 4 Hannah’s Pick 

[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/marianhill/got-it[/soundcloud]


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